The Mississippi sweet potato harvest has wrapped up right on time, despite some rainy days and the many storms that have passed through the region. “The middle of November is the usual time for the growers to finish up, and while this has been a very busy hurricane season, we have gotten through it very well,” says Sylvia Clark of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council.
Good volumes this season
The planted acres for the Mississippi sweet potato industry this year have increased a bit, but not in a substantial amount, Clark shares. “We have gone up by maybe a few hundred acres, but that’s not a huge increase by any means. The yield this year ranges from average to a little higher than average. This is mainly due to the better weather this year compared with previous years and all the growers being able to harvest all of their potatoes. We’re prepared to service the usual customers of Mississippi sweet potatoes and will also be happy to reach out to any new potential customers,” says Clark. Mississippi distributes their potatoes throughout the US.
Strong demand for the holidays
At the start of the pandemic, the sweet potato growers saw a few logistical issues, but demand fortunately hasn’t been impacted. “In the beginning there were some challenges with getting the loads to where they needed to be, and some restaurant chains cut back their orders, but the demand from the grocery stores and the help of the CFAP program made up for that and sales have been good,” Clark explains.
The long shelf-life of the sweet potatoes in combination with their health benefits have boosted consumer demand. Now, with Thanksgiving around the corner, the usual holiday demand looks good. “The holidays will look different this year, but people will still include sweet potatoes in their meals,” says Clark. “They’re a traditional staple at the Thanksgiving table – especially the orange ones which are the primary variety grown in Mississippi. Because of their health benefits, we anticipate they’ll still be in high demand for the holidays. Even if the gatherings will be smaller this year, sweet potatoes will still be part of the meal,” she adds.
“We’re thankful for the crop we have this year and thankful that we are able to continue moving forward despite everything. We hope that people will continue to take advantage of the health values of sweet potatoes and continue to eat them year-round,” Clark concludes.